Milton Hershey School Names 2017 Alumnus of the Year
Col. Eric Welsh ’84 recognized for his global humanitarianism and service to our country
HERSHEY, Pa. – Milton Hershey School® has named retired Col. Eric Welsh ’84 the 2017 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his global humanitarian efforts, 28-year military career and selfless service to homeless veterans.
“Col. Welsh is setting the example for all of us when it comes to service, putting service to his country and service to others above everything else,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “Through that service, he is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School—values like integrity, honor, loyalty and respect. We are proud of his achievements and the example he’s setting for our current students.”
Welsh enrolled at MHS when he was 9 years old. During his time at the school, he developed lifelong skills that helped build the foundation of his character. He learned from adult mentors and participated in athletics, band, choir and student senate.
“I believe Milton Hershey School saved my life,” said Welsh. “The school faculty and senior leaders taught me everything necessary to be successful in life and I always will endeavor to be worthy of their investment in me. In their everyday actions, they modeled the core values that matter so much to me—loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. MHS is my home and the people there will always be my family.”
After graduating from MHS, Welsh attended Kent State University in Ohio, majoring in political science while earning the designation of distinguished military graduate.
He spent 28 years with the U.S. Army and served in several high-level, active-duty leadership roles all over the globe, as well as a key advisory position at the Pentagon. A decorated soldier, Welsh’s military awards include three Bronze Stars, one with valor, a Purple Heart and Legion of Merit, among other honors.
After retiring from the military, Welsh moved to Atlanta, Georgia. with his two teenage sons to work at The Coca-Cola Company. He now serves as global operations director for Coca-Cola’s EKOCENTERTM project. Through EKOCENTER, a modular community market, Welsh has helped thousands of people in Africa and Asia gain access to basic goods and services such as safe drinking water, electricity and communication access.
He’s also the founder of Almost Home Foundation, Inc. a pending non-profit in Georgia that helps combat-experienced veterans and their families transition from military to civilian life. The foundation also addresses the unmet needs of post-traumatic stress treatment for veterans.
Milton Hershey School will honor Welsh during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 10. He will address students and staff during the 2017 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 11.
MHSAA Annual Golf Classic May 17
This is the largest MHSAA fundraising event. It supports MHSAA and funds two student-alumni golf outings.
Talk with students about your career at MHS Career Fair on March 10
The 2017 MHS Career Day again will coincide with Fellowship Weekend for alumni, March 10-12. The 2017 Career Day will feature a Career Fair on Friday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Founders Hall Rotunda. We are seeking alumni who work in careers that fall within the various Career Technical Education pathways offered by MHS. The Career Fair will provide alumni the opportunity to showcase their career areas and informally meet with students and staff.
Please note that this is not a lecture format. This year’s Career Fair is an opportunity for alumni to briefly chat one on one with students and network with each other.
Each alumni representative will be provided with a table in the Rotunda for displaying information about his or her career, and senior division students will visit throughout the day. Alumni should be prepared to discuss information about what their jobs include, what is needed to prepare for similar jobs and other information that they think would be helpful to students in making decisions about potential careers.
During the Career Fair, alumni participants will be scheduled to have lunch in Founders Hall Dining Room where they can dine with students.
Registration and set up will begin at 8 a.m. in Founders Hall Rotunda.
Students will begin arriving around 9 a.m.
The event will end at approximately 2 p.m.
Please see below for a list of the career tech pathways and select other career fields to be featured during the Career Fair.
|Agriculture and Natural ResourcesAutomotiveBusiness|
Engineering and Design
Law Public Safety and Security
If you are interested in reserving a table in Founders Hall and participating in the Career Fair, please email MHSAlum@mhs-pa.org.
We are able to accommodate no more than 40 participants, and we will make an effort to have several representatives from each career field, so please send respond as quickly as possible.
“Talent Throughout the Town” H2 Talent Show Slated for Saturday, Jan. 7
Students from Milton Hershey School and Hershey High School are joining forces once again as the Hershey Community Youth Alliance (HCYA) to present the annual H2 Talent Show on Saturday, Jan. 7.
This year’s show, which is themed “Talent Throughout the Town,” will be held in the Founders Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m. Due to renovations currently taking place at Founders Hall, all guests are reminded to enter Founders Hall at the fish fountain entrance.
The show is open to the public and will feature performances from students of both schools. A pre-show student art exhibit will be on display in the Rotunda beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door in support of Ronald McDonald House.
Other Hershey Community Youth Alliance projects include student exchange days and a variety of community volunteer efforts. The group’s motto is “Two Schools One Hershey.”
If reasonable accommodations for a disability are needed, notify MHS Campus Services Center 72 hours in advance at 717-520-2647.
Alumni-Senior Fellowship Dinner: Celebrating our seniors
Mark your calendar now for March 10, 2017
The Alumni-Senior Fellowship Dinner is a great opportunity for alumni to show support for their future alumni brothers and sisters. During the dinner, seniors meet alumni in a casual atmosphere and talk about life after MHS and possibly establish a mentoring relationship. To facilitate the best experience for the seniors, we request the following of alumni hosts:
Registrations will NOT be accepted after the Feb. 27 deadline—NO exceptions. We are happy to share that each year more alumni step up to sponsor seniors. We truly appreciate this enthusiasm and ask that out of respect for our seniors, fellow alumni and our School you follow the registration timeline. Late registrations impede our ability to match alumni and seniors in a meaningful way in order to provide a memorable experience for everyone.
No alcohol permitted
We ask that you refrain from any type of alcohol prior to the event, and no alcohol is permitted at the tables during the dinner. The dinner ends at approximately 9 p.m., leaving ample time after seniors have returned to their TL homes for alumni to socialize with each other.
The Alumni-Senior Fellowship Dinner is about our seniors
The best way to facilitate conversation at your table is to engage seniors. Find out about MHS today, what the seniors enjoy, their fears as they approach graduation and, if time and interest permits, not just what they are planning after MHS, but why? The “what” may be easy to articulate, but the “why” is a more purposeful conversation, requiring thought and reflection by students.
Fellowship Weekend brochures will be mailed in early January. Register for the Alumni-Senior Fellowship Dinner by mail using the form in the brochure or register online at mhsalum.org. Watch breaking news for the announcement of when online registration is live.
Journey of Our Lives brings alumni and senior leaders together
On Saturday, 14 alumni and 20 seniors who are resident assistants for the School’s Transitional Living program participated in an experiential program that is designed to help alumni reconnect and recommit to Milton Hershey School. The program included sessions about the admission process, Career Technical Education and the new Graduate Programs for Success division
Dick Purcell Memorial Golf Tournament (Dearden Foundation)
Over 120 golfers participated in the annual Dick Purcell Memorial Golf Tournament in support of the Dearden Foundation. The weather cooperated perfectly. This tournament is the primary fundraising event for the Dearden Foundation and is chaired by Milt Purcell ’64 and a Director on the Foundation Board. As always Milt and his volunteers did a wonderful job of making sure everything went smoothly and everyone had a good time.
‘Dreams are Accessible’ for Milton Hershey School Class of 2016
It was an emotional celebration on Sunday, June 12, 2016, when 222 students in the Class of 2016, the largest in school history, received diplomas during Milton Hershey School’s 82nd Commencement ceremony at Giant Center.
From the inspirational speeches to the motivating videos, it was a special day for the MHS family which reached a milestone of 10,000 graduates.
Milton Hershey School students to honor alumni in Memorial Day Parade
Milton Hershey School students will participate in the annual Memorial Day Parade in Hershey on May 30. For the sixth year, 60 Senior Division MHS students will silently march in the parade wearing shirts with a name and photo of one of 55 Gold Star alumni who gave their lives while serving our nation.
Milton Hershey School Names 2016 Alumnus of the Year
Johnny Mills recognized for his contribution to the music industry and philanthropic spirit
HERSHEY, Pa. –Milton Hershey School® has named Johnny Mills ’75 the 2016 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his talent as a renowned musician and the example of excellence and philanthropy he sets for MHS students.
“Johnny is a tremendous example of the positive results that can happen when children are provided a top-notch education, a nurturing environment, and the opportunity to find and hone their passions,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “He is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School – principles like hard work and service to others – to share his gift of music. He is an outstanding role model for our students of what they can achieve with perseverance, dedication, and an enthusiasm for serving humanity.”
The MHS Alumnus of the Year Award began in 1954. Recipients of the award have demonstrated humanitarianism and exemplary service to others, achieved distinguished service in their careers, and exhibited high standards of achievements, both personally and professionally.
Mills enrolled at MHS when he was four, and discovered his gift for music while at the School. He was a member of the marching band, went on spring tour with the Glee Club, performed in Parent Weekend programs and served as the principal drummer in the Spartan Orchestra.
Several adults on campus helped nurture Mills’ musical talent. His Senior Division housefather allowed Mills and members of his band to use a small outbuilding near their student home for practice. “We would spend hours and hours jamming and practicing songs in that old shed,” Mills said.
After graduating from MHS, he traveled from city to city in an attempt to launch his musical career, but had little success. In 1979, he returned to central Pennsylvania where he met and married his wife, Anita, and they began to raise a family. It was then Mills took the advice of his MHS mentor, the late Warren Cromleigh ’39, and began taking private lessons with legendary jazz drummer Joe Morrello.
In addition to studying with Morrello, he played in three local bands while working a full-time job to support his growing family. In the mid-1980s, a chance meeting with drummer John Dittrich of the country-rock band Restless Heart prompted Johnny to move his family to Nashville.
His big break came when he was invited to audition for legendary star of stage and screen Jerry Reed. Mills was Reed’s exclusive drummer for 12 years. He recorded four CDs with Reed and can be heard on his #1 parody hit, “Tryin’ Stuff On,” and the video recordings “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “East Bound and Down,” and “She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft).”
Mills has recorded with other well-known musicians, including guitarist Brent Mason and legendary saxophone player for the Beatles Jim Horn. Having toured both nationally and internationally, he has shared the stage with artists such as Chet Atkins, Shelby Lynne, Glen Campbell, Bill Monroe, Darryl Worley, Dierks Bentley, The Smothers Brothers, The New Jersey Symphony, Bobby Bare and other Grammy Award-winning artists.
Mills has made numerous radio and television appearances, including “The Grand Ole Opry,” “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “The Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards,” “Jerry Lewis Telethon,” “Nashville Now” and “Primetime Country.”
Beyond his career, he is an active member of his Fairview, Tennessee community. He also volunteers at his church, is a member of two local Nashville bands that play for charities and fundraisers, and donates time to Achilles International. He uses his music industry knowledge to mentor and advise students and those trying to break into the music business. He also volunteered with his local high school band and drum line. Mills credits the examples of Milton S. Hershey and his mentor, Warren Cromleigh ’39, with teaching him the value of giving back.
Milton Hershey School will honor Mills during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 11. He will address students and staff in a tribute to MHS founders Milton and Catherine Hershey during commencement on Sunday, June 12.
MHS recognizes outstanding alumni and student achievements during Fellowship Weekend
MHS honored three outstanding graduates with Alumni Achievement Awards during Fellowship Weekend’s Alumni-Senior Dinner. The awards recognize graduates for their academic, career and community service accomplishments. Corresponding awards also were presented to current MHS seniors.
Alumni award recipients include Gus Nyekan ’94, Alexandra Cruz ’07 and Tiffany Chang Lawson ’07. Student award recipients include seniors Franchesca Ramirez, Alexander Radetsky and Olivia Smiley.
Hundreds participate in Fellowship Weekend events
This past weekend was a joyful one for the heart of the MHS family—students and alumni. We thank you and the hundreds of other alumni who returned to campus to enjoy a variety of Fellowship Weekend events.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with the Alumni-Senior Dinner. Each member of the Class of 2016—the largest in MHS history—was sponsored by an MHS graduate.
On Saturday morning the Alumni Breakfast at Purcell Friendship Hall fueled those who participated in the MHSSA Cancer Care Walk which was held in memory of Bill Coskey ’79, who dedicated his life to helping others and served as chair of the Cancer Care Committee. More than 500 alumni, students, staff and community members signed up to walk.
The weekend culminated with Chapel Service Sunday morning and an alumni-senior softball game in the afternoon. Overall, there were plenty of opportunities for alumni to reconnect with one another and begin building meaningful connections with current students—your future alumni brothers and sisters.
Thank you, Go RED alumni readers
Nearly 40 alumni volunteered as guest readers for the annual Go RED (Read Every Day) Family Reading Night in early February. During the program, Elementary Division students came dressed in their PJs to listen to stories read by alumni guest readers. Participants also participated in a craft project and enjoyed refreshments with the alumni.
Provide career assistance to MHS students, young grads
Do you have an interest in speaking to MHS students about your career or other professional development topics? Or, would you like to volunteer as a mentor or provide an internship to an MHS student or recent graduate? Contact the MHS Alumni Relations and Programs Office to update your career information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students make most of snow days
Last weekend, more than 30 inches of snow fell in central Pennsylvania, shattering previous records and blanketing the Milton Hershey School campus in white. Students enjoyed the snow by sledding, making snow angels and playing in the fresh powder!
So many of our graduates have such fond memories of snow days from the past, we thought we’d share a few pictures from the 1950’s and the 1960’s. View more on our Facebook page.
2014-2015 Brown & Gold Annual Report is now available online. Click here to view.
Milton Hershey School teacher selected for national printing education award; read the article.
Help MHS students reach $100,000 goal for Mini-THON
On Friday, March 11, Milton Hershey School will host its second annual mini-THON to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, which provides assistance to families who are battling pediatric cancer. The event will be a small version of the 72-hour THON at Penn State University, and this year’s fundraising goal is $100,000.
Here’s how you can help:
- Donate sports memorabilia, apparel, autographs, gift certificates, etc., for a community-wide auction. If you plan to donate an item, send an email to John Karavage, and then send the item by Friday, Feb. 19, to John’s attention at Milton Hershey School, 820 Spartan Lane, Hershey, PA 17033.
- Make a donation online. Doing so will help the students reach an additional goal of having a donation from someone in each of the 50 states.
View the 2015 Homecoming Scrapbook
Alumni Success Stories
Spartans are putting their mark on the world.
We want to hear from YOU, our MHS Alumni who are doing amazing things! We’ve just launched something new called Alumni Success Stories, and we want to hear from our alumni. Submit your story here.
Congratulations to our alumni for their recent achievements!
Construction projects on the MHS campus
Route 322 Roundabouts: In August, construction began on two new roundabouts on Route 322 (Governor Road) where it intersects with Homestead Lane and Meadow Lane in Hershey (near Founders Hall).
The public should be aware that east-west travel on Route 322 will remain open during construction, with lane shifts and construction signage directing traffic. The intersections at Homestead Lane and Meadow Lane (north-south travel) will be closed.
The project will improve safety at intersections located in the Milton Hershey School campus corridor. Please find maps below to help with navigation around the MHS campus.
2015 Dearden Leadership Academy
In June of 2015, 24 students and 18 adults participated in the 6th annual Dearden Leadership Academy (DLA). The DLA program incorporates a heritage based program that focuses on teaching leadership and character development. The program includes the personal beliefs and work habits that both Mr. Hershey and William Dearden valued and modeled. Students are involved in a week long program that includes experiential learning, challenge course activities and interactive presentations.
The primary goal of the program is to inspire students to understand their role in leading self, leading others and changing their worlds. Students begin to understand the importance of continued growth and learning while remaining true to a core set of values.
The Dearden Leadership Academy is coordinated by the MHS Alumni Relations and Programs office and Home Life staff and is funded by the Dearden Foundation. To date, 210 students and 153 adults have participated in the program.
MHS employee and alumnus honored for military career
MHS employee and alumnus Rodney D. Drake ’80 recently was honored for his service in the military. A retired U.S. Army Master Sgt., Drake was recognized for 27 years in the Army at a retirement ceremony in Maryland. One of the most special moments of the day for Drake was seeing his former MHS housemother Shirley Martin Zimmerman who was present to celebrate his accomplishment. Congratulations, Rodney!
Alumni Achievement Awards posted. Click here to view.
MHS Announces 2015 Alumnus of the Year
Dr. J. Anthony Graves recognized for his contribution to pediatric cancer research
HERSHEY, Pa. – Milton Hershey School® has named J. Anthony Graves, Ph.D., M.D. ’87, the 2015 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his commitment to pediatric cancer research and the example of excellence and philanthropy he sets for MHS students.
“Dr. Graves is a tremendous example of the spark that can happen when children are provided a top-notch education, a nurturing environment, and the opportunity to find and hone their passions,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “He is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School – principles like hard work and service to others – and using his gifts to fight pediatric cancer. We are so proud to see an alumnus devoting himself to this noble cause. He is an outstanding role model for our students of what they can achieve with perseverance, dedication to their studies and an enthusiasm for serving humanity.”
Graves enrolled at MHS when he was 14. During his time at the school, he was a standout student leader who participated in National Honor Society and Student Home Council. He was also a distinguished athlete on the cross country and track teams. He has fond memories of the relationships he built on campus, particularly the bond he developed with his weekend houseparents, Brad and Terri Brooks.
“Milton Hershey School really rescued me at a time when I needed it,” said Graves. “It represents the closest thing I could get to a family and a nurturing environment. It truly set me on a course for the rest of my life.”
After graduating from MHS, Graves attended Bucknell University, majoring in biology with a minor in black studies. At Bucknell, he became involved in laboratory research, which influenced his goal of a career as a physician-scientist.
Upon completion of his B.A. in 1991, he went home to Pittsburgh to complete his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. From there, he entered John Hopkins University School of Medicine, earning his M.D. in 2002.
Graves currently has his own research laboratory at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he focuses on studying mitochondrial physiology in pediatric cancers. He also serves as an assistant professor of pediatrics at the CHP.
Graves has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 Young Investigator Award from CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society of Clinical Investigators.
“It’s a tremendous honor. I was very overwhelmed when I received the news,” said Graves. “I can’t believe I deserve such a prestigious award, but I am very proud and humbled to be recognized.”
Milton Hershey School will honor Graves during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 13. He will address students and staff during commencement on Sunday, June 14.
Milton Hershey School Congratulates Lt. Col. Charles Seidel ’87 for his Distinguished Military Career
Milton Hershey School congratulates Lt. Col. Charles Seidel ’87 of Oxon Hill, Md., who retired June 1, from the United States Air Force after a 27-year distinguished military career.
“Lt. Col. Seidel is a wonderful role model for our students, as he exemplifies perseverance, commitment to mission and integrity – all the qualities we strive to instill in the young people we serve,” said MHS President Peter Gurt ’85. “He is an amazing ambassador for our school and the achievement that is possible with a top-notch educational foundation.”
Seidel served as the Long Range Strike Bomber Integration Division Chief. He has been recognized with the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, NATO Medal and many other notable decorations.
He attended MHS from fourth grade through graduation. He even met his future wife, Cyndi, at the school.
Seidel credits Milton Hershey School with preparing him for life by teaching him the value of hard work and respect for others. He attributes many of his life’s successes to his upbringing at the school.
“My experiences at MHS built in me the character traits I needed to be successful in the Air Force – core values like integrity, excellence and service before self. Life has been easier for my wife and me because of the education we received at Milton Hershey School,” said Seidel. “The school owes me nothing, and yet all these years later it continues to give. I love my MHS family and was so touched by how many people from the school attended my retirement ceremony.”
MHS celebrates 81st Commencement Ceremony
The 81st Milton Hershey School® Commencement took place on Sunday, June 14 at the Giant Center, when 203 students received diplomas.
On Sunday, Milton Hershey School welcomed new young adults into our family of alumni. As we marked their achievements during our 81st Commencement, I also want to acknowledgethe accomplishments of the many employees and alumni who helped them to reach that special day. As I looked out into the audience of more than 4,000, I knew our students could feel the love and pride of their MHS family, and that our support and guidance played an extraordinary role in helping them to reach their goal.
I thank everyone who participated in the many activities of the weekend, from their senior class trip and the Ring Ceremony to prom and the awards and Commencement ceremonies. The MHS community was very visible and supportive, making their last few weeks as students memorable and showing them that this is always their Home and we are family.
Today, our obligation shifts to one of postgraduate support as we work to preserve the great investment we have made by helping them achieve success in college and beyond. During our Alumnus of the Year dinner, I was yet again reminded of the power of this community. As we honored the achievements of Dr. Anthony Graves ’87, who is striving to find a cure for pediatric cancer, I could only wonder what the young men and women in the class of 2015 will one day do to make the world a better place.
Peter G. Gurt
Alumnus of the Year Dinner
On Saturday night, the MHS community honored its 2015 Alumnus of the Year, J. Anthony Graves, Ph.D., M.D. ’87 at The Hotel Hershey. He’s being recognized for his commitment to pediatric cancer research and the example of excellence and philanthropy he sets for MHS students.
Class of 2015 Ring Ceremony
As part of a longstanding tradition, seniors received the unique MHS class ring on Friday. The ring symbolizes Home, School and family. Click here to watch.
MHS School Historian Authors Hershey: Then & Now
Milton Hershey School Director of School History, James D. McMahon Jr., will release the book, Hershey: Then and Now, on Monday, June 1. Through more than 200 vintage images, many never before seen, Hershey: Then & Now, highlights the town Milton Hershey founded in 1903 to present day.